Wireless phone charger project: waterproof, fast, handlebar mounted, reliable.

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Phi1osopher, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. Phi1osopher

    Phi1osopher metaphysician

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    64
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I made a pretty cool DIY phone charger, as an add-on to my RAM X-Grip IV phone mount. I drive through Baja and Mexico on my KTM690 Enduro quite a bit on extended off-pavement adventures, and I use my phone for GPS navigation. I've logged about 6000 Mexican miles in the past 5 months, about 50/50 dirt/slab, and one of the my worst reoccurring problems has been keeping my phone charged all the time. I am assuming I am not the only one who's had these problems, and here's my story of what I did to fix it, along with some info/ walk through for your own DIY solution.

    I also would be extremely interested in any input for how I could do this better, or how other riders have solved these issues.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    I like to use my phone for navigation, etc. I have a Samsung S7 Active, and like most of the newer, nicer phones it is waterproof, but it also consumes a LOT of power. Invariably I will be off somewhere far away, dependent upon my navigation, and the battery will be about to die, with no way to recharge it on the go.

    First there is the problem of actually generating enough power to keep the phone charged. Basically, only the newest, fastest "Qi 2.0 Fast Charging" can keep the phone charged while being operated with the screen at max brightness, navigation is running, playing music, with GPS and Bluetooth. Many chargers don't provide enough power to prevent it from slowly draining, even when plugged in and "charging." I.E. all the gas station chargers, etc simply are not good enough. Also, even though the phone is waterproof, in the presence of light rain or even high humidity the phone will detect the moisture and turn off the USB charging port to protect against shorts.... Which doesn't matter much because those fragile little micro USB plugs simply break all the time: vibration, wind buffeting, getting accidentally knocked... the cable plug breaks, the phone port breaks... It simply doesn't cut it. And then, as far as I know, there are absolutely no correct "Qi 2.0 fast chargers" on the market which are dust and water proof, vibration proof, and adventure motorcycle compatible.
    In short, the standard USB charging port isn't good enough.

    The other option is wireless charging. Most of the newer phones, including mine, have integrated wireless charging capabilities. I got the idea that the phone probably would wirelessly charge, even when wet! (And it does - even under water!) This could circumvent the whole crappy USB cord issue. However, wireless chargers are notoriously slow, they're super fragile, and you still have to use a micro USB cord to plug them in. Plus none of them are waterproof. However, there is a new QC 2.0 wireless quick charging protocol. It allows some wireless chargers to actually produces enough power to wirelessly quick charge a phone - enough to keep the phone running even under heavy use.

    About 6 months ago ordered about a dozen various wireless QC 2.0 Quick Chargers and took them all apart to see if I could make my own. I am now on my 6th iteration, and I think I've worked out most of the kinks to making this work -- and keep on working, even in the roughest conditions.

    My parts list: (note these Amazon links have no affiliation. They're just what I bought)
    1. (recommended) 5-Way SAE Adapter Connector: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003L643KS
    2. (recommended) Battery Tender voltage display: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DJ5KE9A
    3. SAE to Cigarette Adapter: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01E04YWNC
    4. Aukey CC-T7 Dual USB Port Car Charger with QC 3.0 Certification: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019OSX8UC
    5. Anker PowerLine+ Micro USB (1ft) Cable: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019PV2I3G
    6. Fast Wireless Charger, PLESON Fast Charge QI Fast wireless Charging pad Stand for Samsung S7: https://www.amazon.com/Wireless-wireless-Sleep-friendly-Compatible-Qi-enabled/dp/B01D8D5NCA
    7. Big thingie of JB Weld: https://www.amazon.com/J-B-Weld-8270-Industrial-Professional/dp/B005UYVIXO


    To enable fast wireless "QC 2.0 Quick Charging" you need (1) a correct wireless charger, (2) a correct power supply, and (3) a USB cable that can handle the higher wattage - many cheap USB cables cannot.

    When I took apart the chargers I realized they all are just 2 parts: a circuit board and a charging coil. I got the idea to seal the charging coil in epoxy, making a "Coil Puck," then mounting the puck to my Ram X-Grip phone mount. I then stashed the circuit board in a secure location (in my tank bag) inside an improvised waterproof enclosure. I soldered wires between the coil and the board, making an approx 3' extension (and sheathed them in wire wrap), then used the bottom of a paper Dixie cup as a mold to encase the charging coil in JB Weld (it's not conductive) -- the Coil Puck. That let me put the coil on the ram mount, and to do it securely and completely vibration resistant. I used 3m heavy-duty Weatherstripping adhesive. At this point I am not worried about making the puck as thin as possible; I'm shooting for sturdy.


    here is a left-over disassembled QC Quick Charger with just the circuit board and the coil, held up next to the "coil puck" mounted on my RAM mount. The coil itself is a bit of copper winding adhered to a thin, fragile magnet.
    [​IMG]


    This is how thick the Coil Puck sits on the Ram mount. This is the larger style "RAM X-Grip IV." Observe that I bent the arms up at a slight angle to accommodate the additional thickness of the Coil Puck. I've logged THOUSANDS of miles (and several crashes) like this with no problems at all holding my phone. I trust it as secure.
    [​IMG]



    Here is the rest of the charger. I found an old broken flashlight to use as a housing for the Wireless Charger's circuit board. I know it looks a bit ghetto, but it ought to work. There is a spare wireless charger board + coil there for comparison. For a power supply I am using an above-average ANKER QC 2.0 compliant car charger, and since none of this is currently available to be purchased with motorcycle-friendly SAE connectors, I had to use a SAE-to-Cigarette lighter adapter. All these bits are mostly protected from the elements in my tank bag, but I crash (sometimes while crossing rivers...) so I tried to make each bit as waterproof as possible, this time I am using Hot Glue, but RTV sealant would probably work as well or maybe better. Observe sealant between the USB car charger and the Cigarette lighter power adaptor; Gorilla Tape over the extra USB charging port; hot glue to reduce vibration fatigue at the USB cable and the Car Charger, and to prevent accidental unplugging; the red 1' USB cable is the most durable one I could find; the circuit board is in the housing - and I chose the old flashlight because I like how there is a large clear window: the circuit board has LEDs that illuminate when in use, etc; also the flashlight housing allowed me to mostly fill it with hot glue to protect it all further: the circuit board and its unprotected, flimsy micro-USB port are areas of extra vulnerability; finally you can see the black wire sheathing exiting the flash light housing and leaving the photo to the left, which extends to the Coil Puck.

    [​IMG]



    All that stuff ^^ is this stuff:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    When the unit is correctly wirelessly Fast Charging the LEDs illuminate:
    [​IMG]


    And here is the happy magic thing: Fast Wireless Charging!
    [​IMG]



    OKAY! Lets Go!!
    [​IMG]


    Thanks for looking!
    -Steve
    #1
  2. George Hanson

    George Hanson Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2016
    Oddometer:
    502
    Location:
    PA
    Wow
    #2
  3. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    726
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Well done, I have thought of this before but the regular wireless charger is so slow it won't keep up with the battery drain. Does the fast charging create much heat?
    #3
  4. MX Engineer

    MX Engineer MX Racer

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,038
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI; Lake Havasu City, AZ
    My both Galaxy S5 and BlackBerry Priv often don't charge much, if at all, via USB if I have Google Maps on and the LCD screen lit up. I tried different chargers with no effect. Are you saying the problem could be in the USB cable?
    #4
  5. levain

    levain STILL Jim Williams

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2005
    Oddometer:
    8,769
    Location:
    Providence, RI
    The real question(s) is (are) will that work with an S5 active, and will you make me one?
    #5
    SmittyBlackstone likes this.
  6. AdvNener

    AdvNener Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Oddometer:
    218
    Location:
    Marseille, France
    Nice. I have been thinking about doing something like that (with the same ram x mount), but it turns out my Z2 is not wireless charging compatible :eek:
    #6
  7. Gypped

    Gypped Backyard Camper

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    236
    Location:
    Jax Fl
    It could be. A lot of USB cables, especially cheaper ones, are made with smaller gauge wire that won't handle faster charging. There's also separate data and charging wires, and fast charging cables have them jumped together. Usually if you can use a cable to transfer data, it won't work for fast charging.
    #7
    SmittyBlackstone and MX Engineer like this.
  8. Phi1osopher

    Phi1osopher metaphysician

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    64
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Here is a little additional information....

    The main difference is that the QC 2.0 fast chargers use variable voltage (up to 18w) combined with battery temp monitoring to facilitate very fast device charging; they represents a suit of battery charging tech in one package.

    Here is the wiki article unpacking more about the QC 2.0 quick charging protocol: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quick_Charge

    Here is an interesting white paper, more technical diagram of a QC compliant charger: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...NK7kFStUMKhnE-DAA&sig2=oUzO7hZfjGPd5mGaAd5cGw

    Here is more info on the Qi 2.0 wireless protocol: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi_(standard)
    #8
  9. sunquest2

    sunquest2 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    SDPT. N. Idaho
    Have you considered using a Qi charger with multiple coils there flat.
    Nice job with all your research I spent the winter doing a similar trip threw Mexico only to have my Samsung S5 stop charging due to the USB connector fail. Using my backup phone Casio GZOne and my Telcel chip I could not receive data
    Build it and they will buy it !! Thanks for sharing.
    #9
    SmittyBlackstone likes this.
  10. SONICJK

    SONICJK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2013
    Oddometer:
    72
    Location:
    Bell Buckle, TN
    Very cool.
    Why not just cast the circuit board in clear epoxy? 100% waterproof.
    #10
  11. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Bitch called me a feminist.

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    17,091
    Location:
    Nippon
    Answer is no, the S5 active doesn't have the pins (under the battery cover) to do wireless without using the USB, the S5 Neo has pins but I don't know what they actually do, they may be charging pins, but I haven't found an adapter that will fit under the cover.

    That being said starting with the S6 they have both Qi and PMA integral to the phone, S6 has a big issue in the fact that there is no removable memory port, making the S7 active the Cadillac ADV phones. This is one that I have been wrestling with big time over the last few months as I came to the same conclusion as the OP, the USB-C just doesn't cut it for motorcycle applications, not even for the street.
    #11
    Macho Man2 and SmittyBlackstone like this.
  12. Schmokel

    Schmokel Riding gear saved my life.

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2015
    Oddometer:
    10,531
    Location:
    Up. And to the right.
    Nicely done.

    Now, I'm sort of confused by the appeal of having wireless charging on the bike. You still need to run cables to the battery or some other power source. Is this primarily just so you can quickly pop the phone off the mount without having to unplug it?

    I usually keep my cheapo Kyocera in the mount at all times. With the help from the guys at 3br (@Shov3BR ) my phone charges at like 1% every minute with BT music going, full brightness, and OSM running full bore.
    #12
  13. mgdavis

    mgdavis Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    401
    Location:
    Silverdale, WA
    Well done. I've gotten really attached to wireless charging after getting a Lifeproof waterproof case. I think it is a great concept, but like you find it to be a bit slow. Thanks for sharing your project, it just might be the inspiration I need to do something similar.
    #13
  14. DittyBag

    DittyBag A bag of dirty stuff

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2015
    Oddometer:
    665
    Location:
    Worry, NC
    Steve, great write up! Cool solution.
    Have you just completed this prototype or is this the unit which you have battle tested? I wonder about the durability of the connection from the puck to the circuit board. I wonder about encasing the board in acrylic and casting it in some way to the puck. Anyone know if the board will work well if encased? Too much heat? Steve, does the casting at the coil need to be thin where it contacts the phone?
    #14
  15. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Bitch called me a feminist.

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    17,091
    Location:
    Nippon
    There are wireless chargers that kick my S6 edge into fast charge mode, that is enough to run dual apps (OsmAnd navigation and Locus on Guidance + recording) bluetooth to the helmet, music playing, and GPS status running the compass and it won't budge off of 100%, bad news, I haven't figured out the charger that both pushes enough power and works with the mounts that I have available currently.
    #15
  16. Schmokel

    Schmokel Riding gear saved my life.

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2015
    Oddometer:
    10,531
    Location:
    Up. And to the right.
    Yea, I did 220 miles yesterday with Spotify running to Bluetooth and OSM running on full brightness. Phone never went below 100%.
    #16
  17. Dao1

    Dao1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    839
    Location:
    Austin TX
    The biggest reason (for me) w/ going wireless charging is b/c the physical connector that plugs into the bottom of my galaxy S5 phone vibrated so much that it shorted out the
    charge port. Twice, this happened to me.

    I'm now using an S6 edge, with built in wireless charging.

    this is my holder - Ram universal :
    [​IMG]

    and this my wireless charger
    EnergyPad 1.5A Qi Enabled Wireless Charging Pad [ 2mm Ultra Slim/ Water-Proof ]
    [​IMG]





    [​IMG]

    I didn't glue mine like OP did to his.
    I just lay it inbetween the phone and the holder.
    2"x2" footprint fits perfectly inside holder w/o any cutting.

    When the phone is clamped into the holder, the
    pad does NOT move. I'm sure I would have glued it
    like OP did if it moved all over the place.
    One nice thing about it not being glued down is I can take it into the hotel and
    charge my phone when I'm on my laptop or at home.

    This charger puts out 1.5 amps min., so I'm powering it on the m/c with this,
    a 2.0 amp USB charger, USB cord has a 10amp fuse.

    [​IMG]

    This OtterBox Phone case is what I use w/ my Galaxy S6 Edge, and it fits neatly into the
    RAM universal holder.

    [​IMG]


    Phone's bluetoothed to this bose noise cancelling earbuds:
    [​IMG]

    earbuds fits underneath these helmets I own:
    Arai xd4
    [​IMG]
    Arai Profile
    [​IMG]
    NZI Trials helmet
    [​IMG]

    My bose doesn't clear this JR Racing dirt helmet:
    [​IMG]


    PS,
    I used to have two X-Grip holders like OP's but on my trip to Mexico, I was horrified to see my phone fly out of the
    x grip right after hitting a hidden pothole doing 45 mph. Cracked the lens even though I had an otterbox case. My buddy riding up front also saw his brand spanking new s6 edge also fly out of his x grip hitting the very same hidden pothole, and shattered his curved glass to pieces.

    The Ram universal I now use is about as good as it gets!
    #17
    Evo35, Motor7 and DittyBag like this.
  18. DittyBag

    DittyBag A bag of dirty stuff

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2015
    Oddometer:
    665
    Location:
    Worry, NC
    That's slick. Thanks for posting!
    What software do you use for nav? How do you like it? Download maps? Any things you dont like? What phone service do you use?
    #18
  19. Motor7

    Motor7 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    737
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    How long have you had the Bose and how do you like them. I'm seriously considering a pair.
    #19
  20. Dao1

    Dao1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    839
    Location:
    Austin TX
    For offline maps, I'm using OSMAND, the freebie version. It pulls in GPS routes made by others for their Garmins nicely.
    The last group ride I went on consisted of 500 miles of dirt road in ARK. The organizer sent us 3 GPS maps, in GPX format.
    OSMAND imported them on the 1st pass, and i was able to view it and track it perfectly throughout the 3 day ride.

    Another offline map I use is maps.me. IT's also a free app,
    To import GPS routes, I had to convert the GPX file format to KML format.
    I used this GPS app when I went to Mexico for a 5 day ride in Galiana. Works just fine.

    I also use Google maps, but mainly for around town. This one, I don't even know how to import anything, and don't care
    b/c the other two takes care of it just fine.

    As for phone service, I'm on T-Mobile. I don't recommend these clowns to anyone.
    I used to have Verizon. that's the gold standard.
    #20
    Evo35, Macho Man2 and DittyBag like this.